Is your loved one being emotionally abused in a nursing home?

If you have to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home or other long-term residential care facility, you hope that the person will always be responsibly taken care of, both emotionally and physically. All the person’s needs should be met and monitored in a timely manner, there should be appropriate medical attention provided whenever necessary and each staff member should treat your relative with kindness and respect.

That scenario describes what does happen in plenty of excellent nursing homes in Kansas City and around the nation. However, sometimes seniors who are incapacitated or unable to communicate may be too fearful of retribution or just incapable of reporting emotional abuse from someone employed as a caregiver.

What constitutes emotional abuse of a senior citizen in a nursing home? It can take many forms. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), emotional or psychological abuse can involve “verbal or nonverbal behaviors that inflict anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress on an older adult. Examples include name-calling, humiliating, “destroying property” or isolating the individual from people close to them.

Emotional abuse may be harder to detect than physical abuse, which can leave obvious bruises, scrapes, broken bones or other clear visual indications that something is dangerously amiss.

What are some of the signs that an elderly person is being emotionally abused?

The person may seem to withdraw into a shell when emotional abuse is inflicted. These are some of the telltale warning signs to watch for:

  • Seeming frightened or agitated
  • Reluctance to make eye contact or speak freely
  • Being fearful
  • Exhibiting less self-esteem
  • Mood swings or eating and sleeping changes
  • Being isolated from friends and family
  • Wanting to harm themselves or others

If you suspect that a loved one is being emotionally abused, that can be a serious, painful situation for the whole family. You might want to get legal help to address the situation and protect your family member.